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Best electronic drum sets 2021: top picks for every playing level and budget

Roland TD-07KV electronic drum kit against a wooden wall
(Image credit: Future)

Over the last couple of decades the best electronic drum sets (which you may also hear being called 'e-kits' or 'electric drums') have advanced ever closer to the experience of playing an acoustic drum set. From the physical hardware – including adjustable rack systems and responsive drum and cymbal pads made of rubber or mesh – to the drum trigger technology that ensures a sound plays when you strike a pad, electronic drum sets just keep getting better. At the same time, they've also never represented greater value for money.

Regardless of your needs, there’s an electronic drum set to suit every type of player. Many drummers want to practice drums at home, but are restricted by how much noise they can make, meaning an acoustic kit is a total no-go zone. Then there are pro drummers who need reliability, performance and control over their sound, both live and in the studio. The best electronic drum sets are capable of delivering everything from headphones-based quiet practice alongside excellent tuition tools, right up to effortless recording functionality and so much more.

The electronic drum world has seen a high number of new kits entering the market over the last couple of years. But with an ever-growing list of options, it can be tough knowing where to start. If you’re here to learn more before you decide which is the best electronic drum set for you, click the 'buying advice' link in the navigation bar at the top of your screen. Here you can read more about what e-kits are capable of and get useful guidance from our experts. If you'd rather get straight to our pick of the best electronic drum sets on the market today, then keep scrolling!

We've listed the kits in price order to make it easier for you to find the right one for your budget and there's a full review linked out at the bottom of each kit entry if you want to know more, too. Our handy price widgets also display the latest and best prices from trusted retailers.

We've also filmed demo videos for almost all of the kits featured in this guide so you can hear the kits we tested in action and take a closer look.

We've listed the kits in price order to make it easier for you to find the right one for your budget. Our handy price widgets also display the latest and best prices from trusted retailers.

Best electronic drum sets: Our top picks

With so much choice it can be difficult to pin down the best electronic drum set to match your needs and budget, but these four choices are an ideal place to start. 

If you’re just starting out, you can do no wrong with an Alesis electronic drum set, especially the excellent Nitro Mesh. As the name suggests, you get mesh drum pads and a module loaded with 385 sounds, plus metronome, backing tracks and coaching tools, arming you with everything you need to get started for not a lot of money. If you have a slightly bigger budget, the TD-1DMK is Roland's cheapest all-mesh kit and will stick by you further into your playing journey.

The Roland TD-50KVX is really the pinnacle of e-kit technology right now. This percussive powerhouse is designed to help you unlock all your drumming potential with dynamic, expressive feedback. From the studio to the stage, the tech under the hood of this beast is more than capable for any musical project you have in your head.

Yamaha's new DTX6 range is also worthy of a mention here, particularly the Yamaha DTX6K3-X model. The Textured Silicon pads offer a nice alternative to mesh and the module offers some of the best sounds we've heard on a mid-level e-kit in a long time. You can also add cool effects and enhance your sound on the fly, using the faders on the front of the module.

Best electronic drum sets: Product guide

1. Alesis Nitro Mesh

The best electronic drum set for value

Launch price (pictured model): $379/£339/€390
Configuration: 4x mesh toms/snare, 1x bass drum tower, 1x integrated hi-hat pedal, 3x cymbals
Kits: 40
Sounds: 385
Connections: CD/MP3 aux input, USB/MIDI, MIDI in/out, stereo line/headphone outputs
Reasons to buy
+Great price+Kit editing is quick and simple+Realistic feeling mesh drums
Reasons to avoid
-Sounds are a little artificial-Rack system isn't the most stable here

The Alesis Nitro Mesh electronic drum kit includes an 8" dual-zone mesh snare, three 8” single-zone mesh toms, a 10” dual-zone crash (choke-able), two additional single-zoned cymbals (one for hi-hat and ride cymbal), hi-hat controller pedal and a complete four-post drum rack. 

Also included is the Alesis DMPAD kick pad featuring a robust pressed steel housing, anti-creep spikes and a single-zone surface. Partnering the kick is a chunky kick pedal together with essential assembly key, sticks and manuals. 

Only a few strikes of the quality mesh pads reveal the kit’s acoustic drum-esque properties, particularly with rim-shots and cross stick. The same goes for the crash, which is capable of impressive chokes.

The Alesis Nitro Mesh includes an 8" dual-zone mesh snare, three 8” single-zone mesh toms, a 10” dual-zone crash (chokeable), two additional single-zoned cymbals (one for hi-hat and ride cymbal), hi-hat controller pedal and a complete four-post drum rack. competitive price tag and makes an excellent value first drum kit or a great cheap practice kit.

Read the full Alesis Nitro Mesh review

2. Yamaha DTX402K

Best for connected features, plus quality Yamaha acoustic drum sounds

Launch price (pictured model): $499/£376/€436
Configuration: 4x rubber toms/snare, 3x cymbals, 1x bass drum tower, 1 x integrated hi-hat controller pedal
Kits: 10
Sounds: 287
Connections: USB, aux-in, stereo headphone output
Reasons to buy
+Wide selection of quality sounds+Cymbals feel great to play+App-connected training
Reasons to avoid
-Limited tom positioning options

Yamaha’s DTX402 series is aimed squarely at entry-level drummers. There are three kits in the 402 line-up, but the 402K is the best for tight budgets and offers plenty to help first-timers get started. 

The kit features a sturdy rack plus quiet, natural-feeling rubber drums and cymbals. The DTX402 module is packed with 287 expressive drum and percussion sounds, 128 keyboard sounds, 10 customisable kits and nine reverb types. In addition, aspiring players will find multi-genre playalongs, recording functionality and ten training tools to boost timing, speed and expression. 

Impressively, the DTX402 is also compatible with Yamaha’s free DTX402 Touch app (iOS/Android), which enables deeper kit customisation, additional playing challenges and rewards as players improve.

While we still love this kit and you can't go wrong if you're in the market for a budget kit with great sounds, the 402 series is feeling a little tired now, particularly since the launch of the new DTX6 series. We're hoping to see an overhaul of the range in the near future. 

You can explore more Yamaha options in our guide to the best Yamaha electronic drum kits.

3. Roland TD-1DMK

Roland’s cheapest mesh headed electronic drum set is a winner

Launch price (pictured model): $719/£615/€709
Configuration: 4x mesh toms/snare, 1x rubber bass drum, 3x cymbals
Kits: 15
Connections: headphones mini-jack, aux-in, USB MIDI
Reasons to buy
+Great mesh snare and toms+Compact, innovative rack design+Great value for money
Reasons to avoid
-Module may be too limited for some

This compact electronic kit packs an 8" dual-zone mesh snare, three 6" single-zone mesh toms , three choke-able 10" dual-zone cymbals (hi-hat, ride and crash), a hi-hat controller pedal and a bass drum pad. The neat four-post rack is built around a narrow H-shaped central section and houses an in-built rubber bass drum trigger that’s wide enough to accommodate a double pedal. As a result, it's one of the best electronic drum sets for smaller spaces.

The TD-1 module is packed with decent backing tracks, practice aids and some challenging coaching functions. Despite missing some bells and whistles, the module’s simplicity makes it incredibly user friendly, so it’s particularly well suited to new to intermediate drummers. The 15 kit presets on-board are varied in style and provide a usable selection of sounds that cater for many styles of music. The two-ply mesh heads respond well and there’s a pleasing dynamic range afforded by the module. 

Read the full Roland TD-1DMK review

4. Alesis Command Mesh

Roland’s cheapest mesh headed electronic drum set is a winner

Launch price (pictured model): $799/£699/€804
Configuration: 5x mesh snare/tom/bass drum, 3x cymbals, hi-hat controller pedal
Kits: 70
Sounds: 600
Connections: mini-jack headphone and aux-in ports, 1⁄4" left and right jack outputs, MIDI in/out, USB/MIDI, USB memory stick input
Reasons to buy
+Superb sample control+Mesh heads feel great+Plenty of on-board sound options
Reasons to avoid
-A few hardware niggles-Module display could be better

The Command Mesh follows a standard five-piece-plus-cymbals kit configuration, including an 8" bass drum which also uses a mesh head. The snare and toms are all dual-zone, meaning that separate sounds can be assigned to the head and rim of each pad.

Other top features include a USB MIDI connection, enabling you to easily record MIDI data into a computer – plus standard MIDI in/out sockets, 3.5mm headphone and auxiliary input jacks, expansion inputs for an additional tom and cymbal. To the side of the module sits another USB socket, allowing you to connect a memory stick containing your own jam tracks or samples. The sounds within the sleek-looking Command module follow the overall feel of the rest of the kit: it’s safe, with everything you need. 

Acoustic kits range from studio all-rounders to samples of brushed jazz kits, taking in rock, funk and ‘power’ style sounds along the way. Alesis has done a fine job with the Command Mesh. The mesh heads alone make it a worthy contender, while the range of sounds on offer followed by the sample playback option make this an electronic drum set that will take a long time to outgrow.

Read the full Alesis Command Mesh review

5. Roland TD-07DMK

A well-featured electronic drum set that will fit in small spaces

Launch price: $799/£715/€798
Configuration: 4x mesh pads (snare & three toms), 1x rubber bass drum pad, 3x CY-5 cymbal pads
Kits: 25
Connections: CD/MP3 aux input, USB MIDI/audio, Bluetooth, stereo line/headphone outputs
Reasons to buy
+ Mesh snare and toms feel natural + Super compact setup ideal for small spaces + Bluetooth connectivity is really useful 
Reasons to avoid
- Bass drum pad is fixed 

The Roland TD-07DMK is the most affordable electronic drum set in the newly-expanded TD-07 range. If you like the deep editing features and Bluetooth functionality of the TD-07 module, but don’t really need any of the other physical frills the TD-07KV, KX and KVX e-kits offer, then this could be the best electronic drum set for you.

Yes, it’s a more budget option, but don’t let that fool you. The TD-07DMK proves that Roland’s main concerns are playability and feel - with the double ply mesh heads providing a real-feel playing experience. Not only do the mesh heads near enough replicate real drum heads, but they’re also tensionable with a drum key, meaning you can personalise the feel and stick response to your liking.

The DMK is a compact, powerful e-kit perfect for beginner or intermediate players. With smaller CY-5 cymbal pads, and a bass drum pad (capable of taking a double bass drum pedal) attached to the right hand central leg of the frame, the TD-07DMK won’t get in the way when set up in your bedroom or studio space. It will fold down to fit into small spaces, too.

While keeping the footprint small, Roland hasn’t scrimped on the DMK’s capabilities - with brilliant learning tools such as the Coach mode onboard the module. The Coach tests and scores your timing and accuracy, with exercises ranging from easy to hard, and for the more old-school among us there’s a rock solid in-built metronome to keep your playing in check.

6. Roland TD-07KV

One of the best electronic drum sets for intermediate players

Launch price (pictured model): $1,299/£923/€1,049
Configuration: 4x mesh toms/snare, 1x bass drum pad, 1x integrated hi-hat pedal, 2x cymbals, 1x hi-hat pad
Kits: 50
Sounds: 143
Connections: CD/MP3 aux input, USB MIDI/audio, Bluetooth, stereo line/headphone outputs
Reasons to buy
+Premium mesh heads  +Tensionable pads +Bluetooth+USB audio/MIDI
Reasons to avoid
-You might eventually want to upgrade the hi-hat from a pedal controller to stand-mounted

With Roland's patented, tuneable, dual-ply heads across the snare and toms, plus a standalone kick drum pad, the TD-07KV is one of the most affordable, no-compromise setups in the V-Drums family. 

Couple the feel of the mesh pads with the expertly-captured sounds and you have the ideal platform for getting started, on a kit that will last you many years to come. 

On-board Bluetooth allows you to jam with your music library wire-free, and the built-in coaching modes will help keep your timing in-check. Finally, there's a USB MIDI/audio interface which will allow you to connect to your computer for recording.

Read the full Roland TD-07KV review

7. Yamaha DTX6K3-X

The latest addition to the DTX dynasty delivers some of the best sounds around

Launch price (pictured model): $1,799/£1,799/€2,050
Configuration: 4x TCS toms/snare, 1x bass drum tower, 1x stand-mounted hi-hats, 4x cymbals
Kits: 40
Sounds: 712
Connections: Headphones (standard stereo phone jack x 1), aux-in (stereo mini jack), USB/MIDI out
Reasons to buy
+Excellent sound quality+Hands-on processing+Comfortable pad response+Sample import
Reasons to avoid
-No Bluetooth-Sample management is complicated-The pad sizes feel small

Yamaha's latest electronic drum kit certainly ticks the boxes if you're after a setup that delivers great sounds and plenty of editing options. Featuring Yamaha's TCS silicone pads in the snare and tom positions, one of the most comfortable bass drum towers we've tried and an acoustic-style hi-hat (stand included), there's a lot to be excited about. 

The DTX Pro module allows for a lot of processing, and thanks to the Kit Modifier controls on the top panel, you can apply and manipulate your sounds in real time, plus, you can import your own samples and map them to the pads too. We do feel that the kit would benefit from a software editor to make this process easier, so until then you'll need to make a good investment of time to really get to grips with the internal menu system.

The economical design of the pads means that they do feel small - we’d like a larger snare and floor tom pad - but overall the DTX6K3-X has all the hallmarks of a quality e-kit and is one of our top choices.

Read the full Yamaha DTX6K3-X review

8. Roland TD-17KVX

Roland’s midrange electronic drum kit includes large pads and a Bluetooth-equipped module

Launch price (TD-17KVX): $1,899/£1,429/€1,640
Configuration: 4x mesh snare/toms, 1x cloth bass drum tower, 4x cymbals
Kits: 50
Connections: CD/MP3 aux input, USB/MIDI, MIDI out, stereo line/headphone outputs, Bluetooth
Reasons to buy
+Superb playability+Top-end sounds+Best-in-class Bluetooth system
Reasons to avoid
-Not as many presets as some of its rivals

The big message with Roland's mid-range TD-17 line, which features new pad designs, sounds derived from the flagship Roland TD-50 module, as well as Bluetooth alongside the ability to import your own samples, is that electronic drums shouldn’t feel like a compromise to those who are learning and improving on an electronic kit. Hence Roland’s ‘Become a better drummer, faster’ tagline. 

High quality and highly configurable sounds aside, the main draws here are Bluetooth, and the ability to import your own samples. You can throw whatever .wav sample you have onto an SD card and into the pool of 100 user slots. 

Then comes the Bluetooth. Many drum companies have dabbled with their own systems, but this solution makes the TD-17 one of the best electronic drum sets around. Pairing your device and starting to play along to tracks is fast, and rock solid. The Roland TD-17K's sound quality, features and playability set a new benchmark for those looking for V-Drums they aren’t going to outgrow in a hurry. 

Read the full Roland TD-17KVX review

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9. Alesis Strike Pro

An 11-piece electronic drum kit that looks and sounds great

Launch price (pictured model): $1,999/£2,099/€2,416
Configuration: 14" bass drum, 12" snare, 8", 10", 12" and 14" toms, 12" hi-hat, 16" ride, 14" crash
Kits: 110
Sounds: 1,600
Connections: Aux input, USB/MIDI, MIDI in/out, SD card slot, direct outputs
Reasons to buy
+Real-sized drums and cymbals+Dual-zone pads. The ride cymbal is triple-zone+Lush 4.3" colour module screen
Reasons to avoid
-Mesh feels a little clunky compared to other brands

The 11-piece Strike Pro wears Alesis’ flagship crown. All drum are dual-zone (except for the single-zone bass drum), as are the choke-able crashes. The large ride cymbal has three zones which offer separate control over the bell, bow and edge. The sleek looking module features a large 4.3” colour display and physical mixer. The unit also features an on-board effects engine and in-built sampling capability which allows the real-time recording and editing of audio via the aux input. 

Most impressive is that the Strike Module accepts user samples not only for looping or backing purposes but for actual drum kit creation. The inbuilt samples are of a good quality and the sheer number of kit presets take a long while to explore. 

The Strike Pro may not be a perfect electronic drum set, but it does represent an unquestionably impressive amount of gear for the money. However, be prepared for a lot of tinkering to customise your setup.

If your budget can stretch, the Strike Pro SE (or Special Edition) comes complete with a full-sized 20" kick drum for a more realistic look and feel. The upgraded drum will cost you a few hundred dollars more. 

Read the full Alesis Strike Pro review

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Best electronic drum sets: Roland TD-27KV

(Image credit: Roland)
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Best electronic drum sets: Roland TD-27KV

(Image credit: Roland)
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Best electronic drum sets: Roland TD-27KV

(Image credit: Roland)
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Best electronic drum sets: Roland TD-27KV

(Image credit: Roland)

10. Roland TD-27KV

A next-level e-kit with digital sensing, sample import and more

Launch price (pictured model): from $3,199/£2,499/€2,998
Configuration: 3x PDX100 10” mesh toms, 1x 14” PD140DS digital snare, 1x CY-18DR ride cymbal, CY-12C/CY13R crash cymbal, 1x KD-10 bass drum, 1x VH-10 hi-hat
Kits: 55 presets, 45 user slots
Sounds: 728
Connections: 3x digital trigger inputs, 3x aux trigger inputs, 1x extra crash cymbal input, Mix input, USB audio/MIDI, MIDI in/out, SD Card slot, Master output L/R, direct out 1/2, headphone output, Bluetooth
Reasons to buy
+Next-level snare and ride triggering+Bluetooth, USB audio/MIDI interface and sample import
Reasons to avoid
-You’ll need to spend more to get a larger floor tom

Roland's TD-27 range kit sits in the middle of Roland’s electronic drum set range. At the time of writing, the TD-27 forms the backbone of Roland’s VAD series kits, as well as the TD-27KV we’re looking at here. The sounds are derived from the flagship TD-50, and includes a number of technologies designed to make playing your e-kit as close to the real thing as possible. 

Prismatic Sound Modelling builds on the kit’s raw samples – captured in world-class studios, while PureAcoustic Ambience Technology places your virtual kit inside realistic sounding spaces, complete with room and overhead mic simulation.

As a complete kit, it comes packing larger pads (10” toms, 12/13” crash cymbals and hi-hats) with the big news being the inclusion of a 14”x4.3” stainless steel  PD-140DS digital snare, and 18”  CY-18DR ride cymbal for greater response, physical movement and realism.

The TD-27KV is a sturdy investment, but one that will get you into the realm of next-level triggering and should last you years.

Read the full Roland TD-27KV review

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11. ATV aDrums Artist Standard

An alternative to Roland, Yamaha and Alesis, with acoustic drum set looks

Launch price (pictured model): $3,599/£2,363/€2,720
Configuration: 6-ply, birch: 18"x12" bass drum, 13”x12” and 10”x6.5” toms, 13"x5" snare, 14” hi-hat, 16” crash, 18" ride
Kits: 5
Sounds: 37 (more available from ATV Sound Store)
Connections: output jacks (L/Mono, R), stereo headphone, audio-in, USB 2.0 Type B connector, ATV Link LAN connector, SD/SDHC card slot
Reasons to buy
+Looks fantastic+Superb playability+The hi-hat is extremely articulate and responsive
Reasons to avoid
-aD5 module could do with more sounds

The focus with ATV’s aDrums is strongly on delivering top-quality acoustic drum (and some percussion) sounds, with a familiar, responsive controller to play them from, presented from a design standpoint that looks beautiful. In short, this electronic drum set aims to be as close in sound, feel and looks to an acoustic kit as is possible. The wind may have been taken out of ATV's sails a little with the launch of Roland's VAD series (keep reading for more on that), but if you're looking for an alternative brand to Roland, Alesis or Yamaha, then ATV is worth your time.

Each drum shell is a six-ply birch construction, fitted with mesh heads top and bottom, and coated with a black lacquer finish. The snare features three playable zones (head, rim and sidestick) and includes a wooden wedge to aid with the latter, while the toms are dual-zone (head and rim) leaving the bass drum as a single-zone drum. 

The smaller diameter of each drum means that achieving a comfortable placement is quick and it feels like you’re sitting at a real kit. Meanwhile, the aD-H14 is possibly the best electronic hi-hat we’ve played. Combine the aD5 module with ATV’s pads and shells and you get a very realistic experience. 

Read the full ATV aDrums Artist Standard review

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12. Roland TD-50KVX

Simply put, the best electronic drum set you can buy today

Launch price (pictured model): $6,899/£6,130/€7,094
Configuration: 10” rack tom and two 12” floor toms, PD-140DS digital snare, CY-18DR digital ride, VH-13 hi-hats, CY-14C crash and one CY-15R crash/ride, KD-A22 bass drum
Kits: 100
Reasons to buy
+The KD-A22 attachment turns your 22" acoustic kick drum into an electronic trigger+The new digital ride and snare are amazing+SD card slot opens up a host of new functionality
Reasons to avoid
-Price might be too rich for some

The most noteworthy aspects of the TD-50 are the digital ride and snare which now plug into the kit's module via USB. The ride not only feels more like a real cymbal thanks to its size and weight, but is also designed to respond more realistically due to multiple sensors on its surface. The snare uses the same digital technology to perform much more realistically than any previous model. 

The module itself plays host to 50 kit presets which utilise Roland's brand new Prismatic Sound Modelling engine. It’s also possible to import your own samples via SD card. These can be allocated as a primary sample, triggered by a chosen source, or blended with other samples using the new ‘sub-instrument’ menu. 

Other noteworthy features include balanced left and right XLR master outputs, a new routing engine which allows the kit mixer to control only the headphone monitor mix without altering the front-of-house mix and 10-channel USB audio that allows multi-track recording straight to a computer. 

For this kind of money one would expect some pretty groundbreaking stuff. Thankfully, Roland hasn't failed to deliver with the endlessly customisable TD-50.

New to the TD-50 range is the TD-50KV2 and TD-50K2 kits, which take advantage of the new TD-50X module, which delivers digital ride, snare and now hi-hats. We'll be getting hands on with those soon. 

Read the full Roland TD-50KVX review

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Roland VAD706 electronic drum set

(Image credit: Roland)
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Roland VAD706 electronic drum set

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Roland VAD706 electronic drum set

(Image credit: Roland)
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Roland TD-50X module

(Image credit: Roland)

13. Roland VAD706

An electro-acoustic marvel, as long as your budget is big enough

Launch price (pictured model): $7,999/£7,199/€7,799
Configuration: KD-222 (bass drum), PDA100, PDA120, PDA140F (toms) PD-140DS (digital snare), VH-14D (digital hi-hats), CY-18DR (digital ride), CY-16R-T (crashes, x2)
Kits: 70
Sounds: 500
Connections: MIDI in/out, TRS trigger inputs x14, 3x digital trigger inputs, Master L/R out x2, USB audio/data, direct outputs x8, mix input, SD card slot
Reasons to buy
+Just look at it. The finishes are spectacular+The module is incredibly versatile+The most realistic feel you’ll find anywhere 
Reasons to avoid
-Two of these, or a house deposit. Your call. 

Roland’s VAD (V-Drums Acoustic Design) electronic drum sets are works of art. We’d expect nothing less from a Roland flagship, which takes cues from companies such as Pearl, Alesis and ATV by housing electronic pads in full drum shells.

Featuring digital hi-hat, ride and snare pads, the 706 offers the kind of playability and natural feeling that Roland has made its name upon. As the most important elements of any drum kit, with these digital iterations you can expect to experience some impressively nuanced, detailed and great sounding drum tones - all powered by the formidable TD-50X module. 

Amongst the myriad sound-editing options, building a ‘signature’ sound has never been more thorough - with tuning and muffling adjustments available at the push of a button, as well as drumhead types, cymbal diameter, cymbal thickness, shell sizes and shell depths all up for customisation. This massive library of drum sounds was developed and recorded alongside top drummers and recording engineers, meaning the tonal recall of this e-kit is remarkable.

Of course with Roland, it’s not all about the sounds and playability. It’s got to be aesthetically pleasing - and the VAD706 definitely steps up to the plate. Drum shells adorned with Gloss Natural, Gloss Ebony, Pearl White or Gloss Cherry prove you’ll always turn heads, whether in the studio or on stage. Yeah, it’s pricey - but as a flagship model, we feel like that’s kind of the whole point. This isn’t an example of great value for money, but an example of what the future of electronic drums looks like. 

Read the full Roland VAD706 review

Best electronic drum sets: Buying advice

Man plays Yamaha DTX6 series electronic drum kit

(Image credit: Future)

Choosing the right e-kit for you

If you’re a new drummer, where should you start when it comes to buying the best electronic drum set for you? There are a few things to consider, and we cover these in much more detail in our dedicated guide to the best beginner electronic drum sets.

Electronic vs acoustic drums

In a nutshell, you’ll want at least four drums (snare drum and three tom-toms) and three cymbals (hi-hat, crash and ride), plus a bass drum and hi-hat controller pedal - that's enough to get you playing your first beats.

Keep an eye out for great bundle deals that offer everything you need to start drumming, as some shops will even chuck a drum throne, some sticks and a set of headphones in the box if you're lucky. If you'd rather not use headphones, some kits come bundled with a personal monitor system so you (and everyone else) can hear your playing out loud. 

Rubber vs mesh electronic pads

Whilst rubber is perfectly functional, we would always recommend stretching your budget to an e-kit with mesh pads if at all possible, as they offer a more authentic experience and can usually be tuned to the ideal tension for you using a standard drum key. Other brands offer their own alternatives to mesh. Some Yamaha kits, for instance, feature Textured Cellular Silicon (TCS) pads which offer a surprisingly great feel and response. 

Drum modules

At the entry level your drum module (sometimes referred to as the ‘brain') will offer a limited selection of sounds that cover acoustic drum kits to electronic sounds and percussion.

Your e-kit module should also feature an auxiliary input for connecting a smartphone or music player, enabling you to jam with your favourite music – nothing feels better than locking in with the hits from your favourite artists. Your first e-kit won’t be premium, but if you’re looking to find your feet and practice without disturbing people at home, you’ll do no wrong here.

Best electronic drum sets: Intermediate e-kits

Spend a bit more and you’ll open yourself up to sturdier hardware that's easier to manoeuvre and get your kit in a more comfortable, more natural playing position. The supplied module will likely offer better sounds, with the ability to edit them (tuning, adding dampening etc) and the function to import samples. 

You might even find that your module offers a Bluetooth connection for hooking up your smartphone, enabling you to play along to Spotify, Apple Music et all cable-free. At present this is available on Roland's TD-07 and TD-17 modules.

The module and trigger technology at this level will also make the response to your playing feel more realistic and natural. Finally, with the increased outlay, you're far more likely to be playing on mesh pads rather than rubber.

Best electronic drum sets: Going pro

If you’re ready to step up to a professional kit, you really are in the realm of what can be classed as the best electronic drum sets money can buy. Here, you’ll be investing significant money in leading electronic drum kit technology. You’ll be able to edit your sounds to perfection and the relationship between striking a drum and the sound that’s created will be incredibly realistic, responding authentically to your drumming dynamics, from the lightest ghost note, to a fat backbeat. This kit will be well equipped to perform at home, on-stage and in the studio.

In a nutshell, you’ll want at least four drums (snare drum and three tom-toms) and three cymbals (hi-hat, crash and ride), plus a bass drum and hi-hat controller pedal - that's enough to get you playing your first beats.

Keep an eye out for great bundle deals that offer everything you need to start drumming, as some shops will even chuck a drum throne, some sticks and a set of headphones in the box if you're lucky. If you'd rather not use headphones, some kits come bundled with a personal monitor system so you (and everyone else) can hear your playing out loud. 

Roland VAD706 electronic drum set

(Image credit: Roland)

What is the best electronic drum set to buy in 2021?

The best electronic drum set for you depends on a number of factors, including your playing level, your budget and what you'll be using the kit for. For example, if you only need an e-kit for quiet home practice you may not need one that enables you to import audio samples. Or if you're just starting out, you may want an electronic drum set that prioritises multiple learning tools over myriad sounds and backing tracks.

Whatever your needs, these three kits are a great place to start:

Best electronic drum set for value
The Alesis Nitro Mesh is the ideal starter kit. Everything comes in one box and is easy to set up. It's lightweight too, so packing it away or moving it between rooms is no problem. The all-mesh drum pads go some way to giving you a similar experience to playing an acoustic kit and the module features a satisfying range of sounds that should keep most drummers well occupied.

Best electronic drum set for established drummers
If you're beyond the beginner stage and you want a kit that offers better sounds, sturdier hardware and a generally more advanced playing experience then the Yamaha DTX6K3-X is a top choice. We love the stock sounds, and the fact you can enhance and manipulate them straight from the front of the module. The Silicone pads feel great too, while the rack feels completely unshakeable.

Best electronic drum set for pro drummers
Roland has long held the crown for making the best electronic drum sets when money is no object. The VAD706 sits right at the top of the tree in the Roland line-up, and for good reason. Not only do the full acoustic drum shells give the kit that traditional look that means it wouldn't look out of place on stage or in a top-end studio, but the TD-50X module is currently unbeatable when it comes to the technology on-board. Electronic drum set playing has never felt more natural or nuanced, and dialling in your sound has never been easier.

Should you buy an electronic drum set online?

Concerned about buying an electronic drum set online without playing it first? You needn’t be. Online music instrument retailers like Thomann, Guitar Center and Musician’s Friend offer hassle-free returns as standard, so you can purchase a kit, play it in the privacy of your home and send it back if it's not right. Most offer between 30-45 days to return an item, as long as it’s in original condition.

When is the best time to buy an electronic drum set?

We stand by every kit in this guide when it comes to value for money, features and build quality. If you're in the market right now, then you can do no wrong in picking one up. You may even find small discounts if you shop around (you can use our price widgets to find the best prices in your territory at our trusted retailers). 

That said, in our experience there are optimal times of the year to buy. You can usually find small discounts throughout the year, and during key sales events like Labor Day, Memorial Day and President's Day, but between October and January is the recommended time to look. That's when retailers start gearing up to offer the very best prices coincide with the busy Black Friday/Cyber Monday and Christmas period. If you're able to wait until then, we would urge you to hold off until you can bag a hearty discount. The money you save could be spent on new sticks, an upgrade to your bass drum pedal or a quality pair of headphones.

Keep your eyes on MusicRadar for all the best Black Friday drum deals

Yamaha DTX 2021

(Image credit: Yamaha)

Best electronic drum sets: new releases on our radar

The electronic drum set world moves fast. In just the last couple of years we've seen Yamaha announce a new kit series, the DTX6, while Roland announced three flagship kits, the VAD706, TD-50KV2 and TD-50K2, delivering advanced features including digital hi-hats, real drum shells available in multiple finishes, and a powerful new TD-50 module which boasts deeper editing and greater playing realism than ever before. New kits from both Roland and Yamaha feature in this guide. 

Even more recently, Roland added new models to its beginner to intermediate-friendly TD-07 series while Yamaha has just retired a couple of old ranges, replacing them with the wood shell DTX8 and DTX10 series'.

We test everything we feature in this guide and we'll be getting hands-on with these new kits soon.

Chris Barnes

I'm MusicRadar's eCommerce Editor. It's my job to manage buyer's guides on the site and help musicians find the right gear and the best prices. I'm a guitarist and a drummer and I've worked in the music gear industry for 16 years, including 7 years as Editor of the UK's best-selling drum magazine Rhythm, and 5 years as a freelance writer working with brands including Roland, Boss, MusicRadar and Natal. In my spare time you'll either find me up a mountain on my bike, or in the ocean on my surfboard.